"Lost Too Soon: Remembering Sandra Martinez"

sandra martinezThe death of a child is perhaps the greatest loss parents can ever experience. No parent should ever have to bury their child. It’s just not supposed to happen that way. Sadly Azusa High School said goodbye to a student member  of the Aztec family last week, 16 year old Sandra Martinez. Sandra who was diagnosed with a very rare form of lung cancer just two months earlier died on March 6th as a result of complications following a very delicate biopsy procedure she underwent at the City of Hope. She had been in a medically-induced coma for a month following the procedure. She will be greatly missed.I did not know Sandra. From what I’ve heard and read about her she was an incredible student and wonderful young lady. I probably saw her on campus on occasion last year but because my counseling assignment was with students having last names beginning with O -Z,  I didn’t get the opportunity to interact with her. I’m sure her counselor Mr. Lewis must be heartbroken. It’s tough losing a student.

I was in my 7th year of teaching when I lost my first. One of my 8th graders, an incredible student and talented writer, who had beaten kidney cancer as a young child had the cancer return with a vengeance over Christmas break. Although she was out of school for the last three months we kept in contact and she hung in there, determined to graduate. Her determination paid off and she did graduate and attended the graduation ceremony. Sadly she passed away two days later. I will never forget Rosalyn.

My daughter a teacher at Slauson Middle School had the pleasure of having Sandra in her 8th grade English class two years ago. She was heartbroken when she heard the news. On Saturday she posted a blog about Sandra on her website (yes she’s a blogger like her dad) I’d like to share her post with you. It’s very touching.

Rest in Peace Sandra, fellow Aztec…



Lost too Soon to Lung Cancer     Janene Sausedo Frank  “The Everyday Extraordinary”  15 Mar 2014 

This week was a heavy one.  I attended the rosary for a former student.  In seventeen years of teaching, I’ve encountered over a thousand students easily. . .and when I first heard this student was sick, I knew just who she was.  I could picture her.  Usually, I can recognize some former students by sight–names might or might not come to me–but this one?  I knew who she was.  She was the kind of student you thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated.  She was attentive and well mannered.  She was inquisitive and encouraging. She was quiet and conscientious, actively involved on campus and just an overall good girl.
From what I heard and read, the traits she had while in my eighth grade Language Arts class followed her to the high school.  Of course they did!  She was THAT kind of person:  4.5 gpa, cheerleader, hospital volunteer, aspiring surgeon. . .who at 17-years-old was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Tragic.  It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of her suffering and being sick–this girl with such strong work ethic, and pride, such a promising future.  It breaks my heart for her family, and for her friends.
And it makes me take pause and love on my littles a little longer. Tucking them in at the end of an exhausting day was relished as a gift instead of a chore.  I looked into their eyes and listened when they were talking to me.  We held hands and picked flowers.  We hiked and explored just because we could.  I read aloud a whole chapter a night instead of cutting it short. . .It’s amazing how death, especially that of someone so young, can expand your mama heart to look past the drudgery and embrace it all.  It’s the realization that another mom a city away is wailing into the night for what used to be normal–and just like that, it’s gone. She’s gone.
I absolutely positively do not understand how people come through crisis without their faith.  I realized in church Thursday night, as we prayed the rosary aloud in a church filled to capacity, my prayers and my faith in God and the promise of heaven is all that could get me through. Heck, my faith is all I could think of as I walked up the aisle to pay my respect for her family and a constant stream of prayers were uttered silently in my heart for their comfort and healing.
Lung cancer. Seventeen.  Sandra.  Those words just don’t belong together, yet there they are.  And all I can offer is my prayers.  And all I can ask is that you might do the same please.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.


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